College for Certain Newsletter | October 2016


October is a time for celebration at Aspire. We honored our teachers on World Teachers Day, celebrated our girls on International Day of the Girl, and gave special kudos to our principals during National Principal's Month.

Forty principals lead our schools every day. Our principals ensure each scholar receives the support and instruction needed to be successful on their path to college. Aspire's school leaders nurture a culture of high expectations and rigor while also promoting our goal of AspireForward to close the academic achievement gap. This month, we recognized all of our school leaders and their dedication to our scholars, families and the communities we serve. We are grateful for their leadership and steadfast dedication.

Under the dedicated leadership of our principals, our students thrive, and our teachers pave the path to College for Certain. Karen Schreiner, second grade teacher at Aspire Monarch in Oakland, was recently recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Centers' Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching. Karen's focus on developing a curriculum around real world issues and her commitment to talking with and listening to her students about their concerns on topics facing us today gained her the recognition of this prestigious award.

Our principals' and Karen's dedication to our scholars is evident in the stories we hear from our alumni. Alumni like Jorlenise Avelar-Lopez, a graduate of Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy and a senior at UCLA. Jorlenise credits her teachers and school leaders for instilling in her the belief that she could go to and succeed in college, and she hasn't looked back. Read more about her experience below.

Your commitment to our students, staff and communities support College for Certain. Thank you for your continued and unwavering support of Aspire. We look forward to celebrating more of our successes with you in the months ahead!

Carolyn Hack
CEO, Aspire Public Schools
Developing our Leaders: Instructional Rounds
By Kat Mathers, Associate Superintendent of Instruction, Central Valley

Instructional Rounds offer one example of how we grow and develop our leaders. During instructional rounds, which are designed after the medical school model, a group of Aspire educators come together to visit classrooms, observe the instructional core, and action plan around how to further advance our AspireForward goal of closing the academic achievement gap. This year, Aspire principals will participate in multiple cycles of instructional rounds - with at least one in the fall, and one mid-year.

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Oakland teacher wins Teaching Tolerance award
By Ryan Lindsey for Oakland North

On a Friday afternoon in the middle of a staff meeting at Aspire Public School's Monarch Academy, second grade teacher Karen Schreiner felt her phone buzz. It buzzed again. And again. And again. The call was from an area code she didn't recognize. Schreiner whispered to her principal that she'd be right back and stepped into the hallway. She called back. It was good news-she'd been chosen as one of five recipients of the Teaching for Tolerance Award.

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Living our Mission: Alumni Inspiration

For Jorlenise, a 2013 graduate of Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, Aspire provided a sense of family. Not only did she appreciate and thrive in the small school setting, but her siblings (she's the oldest of four) and cousins also attended and still attend Lionel Wilson, making it feel even more supportive. Lionel Wilson's small school setting helped Jorlenise feel connected with the staff and other students, and she consistently felt that someone was looking out for her.

Currently a senior at UCLA, Jorlenise is studying political science and international relations with the goal of one day being a social entrepreneur and giving back to her community. "There is a big gap in students, minorities that attend college. College is important because it helps break the cycle that a lot of low income students are in." Some of her friends felt they needed to work to provide for their families and put college aside. Jorlenise feels it's important to just keep going, "at least to community college, even if it takes a longer amount of time. Stick with college."

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From the Press Room
John Fanning | Walton Family Foundation Blog

How one teacher set a gold standard, and other secrets of top charter schools success
Richard Whitmire | The Hechinger Report

Founded in 1998, Aspire Public Schools is one of the nation's largest highest-performing, college-preparatory public school systems. Aspire delivers a rigorous K-12 College for Certain education to 16,000 students in 40 open-enrollment public schools in California and Memphis, Tenn. Currently in our 18th academic year, Aspire is one of the nation's first charter school systems.
1001 22nd Avenue | Oakland, CA 94606